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Fiasco: The Inside Story of a Wall Street Trader Paperback – February 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1.2.1999 edition (February 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140278796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140278798
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I take it that he knows what he's talking about!
beaulieu@magi.com
Some authors are very good at teaching you about a complex subject while making an entertaining book, this one succeeded at that.
Matthew S. Donovan
Great book; must read for anyone who is taking up a career in Investment banking.
G. Mustafa Monnoo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Fred on February 18, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are several very interesting parts of this book, the most notable being the chapters (4, 7 - 10) in which Mr. Partnoy gives a high level description of some of the transactions that he was involved in. Some of his anecdotes, particularly those in which he discusses the atmosphere in an investment bank around bonus time (pg.40 - 42, 202 - 205), are pretty amusing and dead on accurate. The author's descriptions of some of his deals are clearly told from a junior banker's perspective, but they do a good job of putting forth what was being done, how it was being done, what everyone's perceived incentives for the transaction were, the work required to get the deal done, what kind of money, and importantly what kind of fees were involved. In this regard, the book offers more than both "Liar's Poker" by Lewis and "When Genius Failed" by Lowenstein.
Like all books written by former investment bankers the book contains liberally sprinkled anecdotes regarding job interviews from hell, the ridiculous daily escapades that can occur on a trading floor, strip clubs, the lack of personal lives, gambling trips and other stories which could easily have been pulled from the pages of Mr. Lewis's book or "Monkey Business" by Rolfe and Troob. All of these shenanigans culminate around the bank's (in this case Morgan Stanley), or more specifically, his group's annual sporting clay outing, FIASCO. The book also suffers from a somewhat poorly defined timeline and the lack of a defining event which drives the story. Due to these faults, it is at times little more than a book about the evils of investment bankers, the ignorance of their customers, all put forward to enforce Mr.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Tim Triche, Jr. (jabbo@yahoo.com) on September 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
My younger brother has decided that business is highly amusing, and after reading this book of his, I have to agree. A while back, I picked up and studied a mathematical book on finance (_Investment Science_, by Luenberger, if you're interested; quite good) that covered pricing, immunization strategies, lattices, the Black-Scholes equation for options valuation, and other aspects of modern finance. So I had a decent feel for what derivatives *are* prior to reading this book. However...
I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud at a book on such an ostensibly dry subject. Partnoy has an amazingly dry, amoral, detached style of narration that only adds to the surreal quality of the book. He is a gifted writer; I plowed through this absorbing read in the course of a little over a day. I have since started simply buying copies for my friends, since my original strategy of buying one floating copy has failed -- it never returned.
Especially if you are investing for yourself, but even if you are just looking for an engrossing book to pass the time, buy a copy of this book and give it to a friend when you're done. It's hysterical, disturbing, unsettling, and superb.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Eric Sabety on April 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
The book was published in 1997. I found it and read it in a day. Now that we are in the midst of another derivative crisis and we are watching our politicians on both sides of the aisle falling over themselves to bail out Wall Street under the guise of helping the homeowner....I am thinking that this book should have been required reading before the more recent crisis. I don't know if Bernanke has read this but it might be a good idea for him. If the characters and motivation and compensation of these clowns are anything like this book suggests, and the news media suggest it is the case, the average American should be outraged. These salesmen have even forced the US Government to do their will. In any event a short, quick, well written and humorous read that seems strangely prescient.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Kingston on January 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
I love starting a review with a few memorable quotes because if you read the book the quotes will bring it all back no matter how long its been since you read it, and if you did not read the book and are intrigued by the quotes you'll buy it on the spot (at least I do). So here it goes:

Pg. 126 Frank quotes Warren Buffett, "If you don't know who the sucker is, it is you".

Pg. 130 Quoting another bond salesman, "Let me tell you something, If a bond can not be sold with two hockey tickets and a good bottle of wine, the bond can not be sold"

Pg. 176 "The involvement of European issuers seemed fitting. The first active derivatives market had opened in Europe in 1688, when traders on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange began writing derivative contracts...Derivatives were returning home"

Pg. 182 Talking about Mexican Banks, "They craved risk...they wanted to gamble. They wanted, they demanded, "leverage"-the ability to borrow to take on greater risk"

Pg 205 "Out of curiosity I asked everyone what other jobs they would be willing to take instead of their current jobs at Morgan Stanley if the pay remained the same...Would you rather work at McDonalds or at Morgan Stanley? For the same pay - McDonalds, without a doubt...Shoveling manure or Morgan Stanley? Manure sounded pretty good to everyone."

Pg 226 Talking about packaging a product for the purpose of creating an illusion of a gain, which happens to create the largest fee's ever ($75 million), "Of the $571 million, the investor immediately realized a huge gain, roughly $400 million."

- This was a totally smoke and mirrors gain done strictly for the purpose beefing up returns.

Pg.
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